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Lotman, Yuri Mikhailovich


LOTMAN, YURI MIKHAILOVICH (1922– ), literary scholar and cultural anthropologist. Lotman was born in Petrograd into an assimilated Jewish family, and studied in the philological faculty of Leningrad University from 1939 to 1950, except for the years 1940–46 when he was in the Red Army, mainly at the front. From 1950 to 1954 Lotman worked at Tartu Teachers' Institute in Estonia, and from 1954 was at Tartu University where from 1960 to 1977 he was head of the Chair of Russian Literature. His main works are concerned with the history of Russian literature and social thought from the end of the 18th to the early 19th century, the theory of literature, cultural history, and semiotics. Basing himself on the work of the "formalist school," Lotman developed a methodology of analyzing the internal structure of poetic texts, applying quantitative methods of research to the semantics of verbal art. He developed ways of studying the links between the author, the structure, and addressees of artistic works, thus emerging as one of the first theoreticians of structuralism in literary study. His major works Lektsii po struktural'nou poetike ("Lectures on Structural Poetics," 1964); Struktura khudozhestvennogo teksta ("The Structure of the Artistic Text," 1970); Analiz poeticheskogo teksta ("Analysis of the Poetic Text," 1972); Semiotika jino i problemy kinoestetiki ("Semiotics of Cinema and Problems of Cinema Aesthetics," 1973, etc.) established principles of structural-semiotic research in the fields of literature and art. Many scholars, including Roman *Jakob son, took part in the Summer School for Modeling Systems which he organized in Tartu in 1964, 1966, 1968, and 1970. In 1964, Lotman inaugurated the publication of the series Trudy po znakovym sistemam ("Works on Signal Systems").

His sister, lidiya mikhaylovna lotman (1917– ), was also a literary scholar, who wrote on general problems of Russian literature of the 19th century. Her monograph Realizm russkoy literatury 60–agodov 19 v. ("Realism of Russian Literature of the 60s of the 19th Century," 1974) is characterized by a complex elaboration of literary-historical and theoretical issues.

[Mark Kipnis /

The Shorter Jewish Encyclopaedia in Russian]

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